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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
PUERTO RICO: Puerto Rico Aims to Strengthen Faltering AIDS
Danica Coto
July 18, 2007
Associated Press (07.17.07) - Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A forced rationing of AIDS medicines for hundreds of low- income Puerto Rican patients has prompted the governor of the US territory to aggressively restructure its treatment program. Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila said Tuesday some $78 million in federal and local funds will be used to streamline medication disbursement and to hire 23 new employees for the program.

The announcement comes amid criticism of Puerto Rico's AIDS program, which has been plagued by drug shortages and alleged mismanagement of federal funds. Last year, the federal government halted money for some clinics following an investigation into suspected irregularities in the handling of federal funds for HIV/AIDS programs. Nearly two-dozen clinics were forced to ration medicine for hundreds of poor patients.

Acevedo said that Jorge Delgado Rivas, an HIV-positive physician from California, will serve as the program's new director. Health officials will review existing HIV/AIDS cases so they can improve services, and a system that oversees the management of federal and state funds will be created, he added.

According to CDC, Puerto Rico has an AIDS rate nearly double that of the US mainland, with more than 26 people infected per 100,000.